Skipping a Beat, by Sarah Pekkanen

Skipping a BeatFinished 12-19-11, rating 4/5, fiction, 323 pages, pub.2011

Michael and Julia had a marriage that started with love and turned into indifference.  They had started out West Virginia poor, but ended up Washington DC millionaires.  When Michael died for four minutes his whole life turned on its head.  Now, he wanted a real relationship with Julia and she wasn’t sold on the idea, but that wasn’t Julia’s biggest problem.  Michael wanted to give away everything.  He wanted to make amends for the years of lying and neglect his power had caused.

The premise is fascinating.  I love books about marriages because each one is complex, unique.  This was no exception.  The chilliness in the marriage happened over time and it is only after a gradual reveal of their past that I totally got them as a couple. I thought the timing of the story and the way that it went from past to present was perfect.

In this story Michael wants to give everything away and Julia has fallen in love with all the amenities of the rich.  I get Julia not wanting to give up heated tiles or a jacuzzi, (who would once you had them?) but her repeated rejection of Michael got to be too much for me.  She was not a nice person and even when I read her backstory I never really got past the problem of her superficiality.  She made progress and grew as a person and the end of the book could have helped me feel better about her growth, but I think it was a cop out in that regard. The complexity of the book was lost in the sad, but pat, conclusion.

It may see that I didn’t like it and that’s not true.  It’s just that the distance I felt from Julia kept the whole story at arm’s length for me.  I loved Julia’s friend, Isabelle and was really invested in her story more than Julia’s.  Even with my complaints I still shed a tear, which I found surprising, so I must have been at least somewhat invested!   I think I’m in the minority for not loving this one.  A good read for fans of stories about complex relationships.

I checked this out of the library.

The Missing Ink, by Karen E. Olson

The Missing Ink (Tattoo Shop Series #1)Finished 12-16-11, rating 4.75/5, mystery, 299 pages, pub. 2009

Book 1, Tatoo Shop series

“Can I help you, Officer?” I politely asked his profile.  I knew how to talk to cops: Keep it cordial, no sudden moves.

He was studying the frosted letters on the window, his hands on his hips.  He didn’t look ready to grab the gun or the nightstick that flanked his stocky frame.  He turned his head slowly, his mouth set in a grim line, eyes narrowed as they settled on my face.

It unsettled me.  Usually people stared at the ink on my left arm-a detailed replica on Monet’s water lily garden, complete with a weeping willow and footbridge-or the dragon that creeps up over my right breast under my tank top.

Chapter 1

Brett Kavanaugh, owner of The Painted Lady tattoo shop in Las Vegas, is the last person to have seen a prominent runaway bride.  Brett is caught up in the mystery and finds herself doing some investigative work of her own, leading her to a dead body and big trouble.  Her brother and roommate, Tim, is a detective and tries to save her from herself with limited success.  She also teams up with a rival tattooist and a sexy Brit who obviously knows way more than he should about the missing woman and the dead man.

Brett is awesome.  She owns her own tatoo shop, but she also has a fine art degree in painting, so she’s got credentials.  She moved out to Vegas when she needed to leave the east coast and remains unimpressed with all the trappings of Vegas.  She sees it as an illusion and that makes her a smart cookie.  She is independent (which leads to some dumb decisions) but relies on the help of her friend and co-worker, Joel.  She obviously is too brave for her own good or she wouldn’t be involved in the murderous mess at all.  What’s not to love?

I have no interest in getting a tatoo and I am no fan of Las Vegas (Was there once, stayed at the Four Seasons and the Luxor.  Was sick the entire week so maybe Vegas didn’t get a fair shake) so it was a bit of a surprise to me that I loved this book so much.  I’d seen all the positive reviews, but was turned off by the cover for some reason.  This will end up being one of my favorite books this year and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.  Who knows, maybe Brett will eventually convince me that tats are cool 🙂 (I do think that a high proportion of people with tattoos are cool, but remain less enamored with the tattoos themselves)

This book had the perfect voice and a strong mystery to make it a fast and fun read.

I checked this book out of the library.